It’s Friday and again I decided to bring you one of my favourite classic authors. If you remember when I wrote the post on Oscar Wilde I told you that one of my friends was very keen on Edgar Allan Poe when we were at school. Margarita. As a consequence I read plenty of Poe at the time, and really enjoyed it. He had a penchant for mystery and horror stories (master of Gothic style), according to some he was the inventor of the detective story, and his poems remain popular to this day. I can say that stories like his ‘The Tell-tale Heart’ will always remain with me.
He was born 19th January 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the son of actors but never knew his parents (father left and mother died when he was only 3). He was separated from his siblings and adopted by the Allan family (tobacco merchants) from Richmond, Virginia. It seems he never got on with John, his adoptive father.
He went to the University of Virginia but did not get enough money and turned to gambling ending up in debt.
He started publishing in 1827 (Tamerlane and Other Poems) and at same time went to West Point. Although he excelled at his studies he was not interested in the duties and was asked to leave. In 1829 he published a second collection of Poems (Al Aaraaf, Tamberlane, and Minor Poems),
He focused on his writing and moved, living in New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Richmond. From 1831 to 1835 he stayed in Baltimore with his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia, whom he ended up marrying in 1836 (when she was 13 or 14).
Back in Richmond he started working for a magazine: Southern Literary Messenger and became well know as a fierce critic. Due to difficulties he only worked there for two years and he only briefly worked for two other magazines. During this period he published The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.
In late 1830s he published Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (including ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, ‘Ligeia’ and ‘William Wilson’). The Murders in the Rue Morgue in 1841 has been described as the first story of a new genre, the detective novel. He won a literary award for The Gold Bug.
His fame reached its peak with his publication of the poem The Raven in 1845. Many consider it one of his best works.
He also wrote a series of essays, poems and The Cask of Amontillado.
His wife Virginia died in 1847 and it seems he never fully recovered. His health was poor and he had financial difficulties. His death is surrounded by mystery, and it’s still unclear what he died of on October 7th 1849 in Baltimore.
He suffered from bad press following his death and another writer, Rufus Griswold (fame has not treated him kindly, but what goes around…) spread rumours about Poe being mentally unwell, an alcoholic and womaniser. Despite of all that, his stories are still as shocking, if not more, than at the time of their publication.
Link to free e-books:
The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Volume 1 (this is under review currently)
The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Volume 2
The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Volume 3
The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Volume 4
The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Volume 5
Edgar Allan Poe’s Complete Poetical Works
There are also free versions in French and Spanish (and I’m sure in other languages).
The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore:
Link to a page with many of his short stories:
The Literature network site:
Edgard Allan Poe’s museum in Virginia:
If you enjoy movies I leave you with the IMDB page on Poe. There’ve been many film versions of his stories, and he’s even recently appeared as a character in his own right (I haven’t watched the movie though…). I love Roger Corman’s versions of some of his stories (actually I love Roger Corman, great filmmaker, distributor of some of the best filmmakers, great eye for talent and has discovered so many great people, from actors: Jack Nicholson, Sandra Bullock, Robert De Niro, to filmmakers: Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, James Cameron, Peter Bognadovich…And if you’re a filmmaker his 1990 biography “How I Made A Hundred Movies in Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime” is highly recommended).
I leave you with this quote because it feels so…up-to-date still:
“We should bear in mind that, in general, it is the object of our newspapers rather to create a sensation – to make a point – than to further the cause of truth.”
And of course, thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed it share and of course, CLICK!